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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 13:51 GMT
EU team quizzes Kuchma
Demonstrators light candles, hold national flags and portraits of missing journalist Georgiy Gongadze
There is anger in Kiev - people want answers
A senior delegation from the European Union has held talks with the Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, against a background of simmering political unrest sparked by the killing of opposition journalist Georgiy Gongadze.

There is no talk of sanctions. We first have to see what answers we get in Kiev

Swedish diplomat
Their visit comes a day after a visit to Ukraine by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, which stoked fears among some Ukrainians that the country was slipping back under Moscow's influence.

The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been flooded by repeated demonstrations calling for Mr Kuchma's resignation.

"The EU delegation will be pressing for a transparent investigation of the Gongadze case," said one of the delegation's members, Christine Gallach.

Leonid Kuchma
Mr Kuchma is under pressure to resign
The demonstrators, some of whom have been camping out in a tent city along Kiev's main street, claim that Mr Kuchma is responsible for Mr Gongadze's death.

Audio tapes smuggled out of the country by a former presidential bodyguard appear to show Mr Kuchma ordering officials to get rid of Mr Gongadze - but Mr Kuchma says they have been edited to distort his words.

On Monday the International Press Institute in Vienna said it would analyse the tapes, at the request of the Ukrainian parliament.

"The purpose of the analysis... will be to determine the authenticity and the correspondence of the tape's voices and those of state officials in Ukraine.

A US State Department said on Monday that Washington was concerned about the case.

"Frankly, we're troubled by the lack of progress to date in the investigation," said State Department spokesman Frank Boucher.

Georgiy Gongadze
Georgiy Gongadze wrote about corruption in high places
EU officials stressed that the partnership agreement between the EU and Ukraine has a clear clause on the respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The EU team, led by Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, also includes her Belgian colleague Louis Michel, the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the European commissioner for external affairs Chris Patten.

Last week, Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, issued a strongly worded statement asking Ukraine to ensure that journalists can work safely and without harassment.

But while Britain and Germany supported Sweden's stance, it is unclear if all 15 EU governments would agree to firmer measures.

"There is no talk of sanctions," one Swedish diplomat said. "We first have to see what answers we get in Kiev. "

Anti Kuchma protest
Opposition parties have organised anti-Kuchma marches
As Ukraine's main trading partner outside the former Soviet Union and its biggest source of international aid, the EU will press for a continuation of stalled economic reforms.

But it will tread carefully in its dealings with Ukraine, which, as the EU enlarges to the east, will become one of its largest and poorest neighbours.

In order to help Ukraine offset serious energy shortages, the EU approved a $600m loan for the completion of two new nuclear reactors after the closure of Chernobyl last year and is also funding $20m of gas imports from Russia.

See also:

12 Feb 01 | Europe
Kuchma wins Russia's support
11 Feb 01 | Europe
Analysis: Kuchma under pressure
12 Feb 01 | Europe
Ukraine crisis timeline
10 Jan 01 | Europe
Headless journalist 'identified'
29 Nov 00 | Media reports
Death, lies and audiotape - Ukraine-style
19 Sep 00 | Media reports
Outspoken Ukraine journalist missing
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ukraine
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